Celebrating LEGO’s 80th Birthday

August 10, 2012

It’s LEGO’s 80th Birthday. In celebration, here’s the official video celebrating 80 years charting their successes (and failures). It’s a moving 17 minute CG film that is beautiful, inspiring, and heartbreaking.

From the early days, through war, fire, loss; through determination, conviction, and faith – shows a family built to build.

The film does, however, make me dislike Mega Bloks, K’NEX, and KREO even more. LEGO created a path to change toys forever through passion and quality. Creating a toy system so uniquely theirs and through that vision they endured such tragedy. It’s so hard to justify any purchase to a company that would steal their very original idea.

It’s a definite must see.

Six Seasons and a Movie Community Art Show

August 7, 2012

I had the great pleasure of attending the Six Seasons and a Movie art show in June, when it was in its full glory. For whatever reason, I never got around to posting images of the event. Well I’ve just remedied that. Chang out some of my favorite shots here or view my full gallery of pics on Flickr.

Teeny Tiny Lego Rocket

July 28, 2012

Rocket LaunchWow. This incredible little rocket created by iridescent nohow somehow manages to look totally perfect and rather massive while only using 10 miniscule bricks. I’m very impressed.

Via The Brothers Brick.

 

Swapnote Me Maybe

July 28, 2012

While I rather dislike the original Call Me Maybe, the many parodies and covers out there are quite excellent. Though of all the ones I’ve watched, this one takes the cake. The complete brilliance of the beyond Nintendo nerdy lyrics is incredibly entertaining. I’ve watched this far too many times.

“Hey, I StreetPassed you, and this is crazy, but here’s my Friend Code. Swapnote me, maybe?”

Via Tiny Cartridge.

Charles Martinet on Super Mario Sunshine at SDCC 2012

July 22, 2012

I got the chance to talk with Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and a ton of other Mario characters) for a bit during the signing at the Nintendo Gaming Lounge during SDCC. He was incredibly kind and awesome. When he picked up the poster to sign he said “Cooper, you numba one!” in the voice of Mario and I felt a little woozy. It was a bit of an out-of-body experience for me.

A moment later, he asked me what my favorite Mario game was. I told him that it was Super Mario Sunshine, and we had a brief conversation about it (this is only a clip of it). He told me that “it’s about time for F.L.U.D.D. to come back”.

Despite nearly dying from just talking to Mario himself about my favorite game of all time, I loved finding out that he loves Mario Sunshine and wants F.L.U.D.D. to return. Luigi’s Mansion is getting a sequel… I can dream for a Super Mario Sunshine sequel can’t I?

New Super Mario Bros. 2 3DS Preview

July 21, 2012

I played through Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. 2 demo twice while I was in the Nintendo Gaming Lounge at the Marriott (once on Friday and once on Sunday). It was incredibly fun, even though it felt really familiar.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the third game in the New Super Mario Bros. style (the first being New Super Mario Bros. on the DS and the second being New Super Mario Bros. Wii). Nintendo decided that if they were going to make another game in the New Super Mario Bros. series, they’d need something to change it up…

The big difference between New Super Mario Bros. 2 and it’s predecessors is it’s new focus: collecting coins. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is all about coins and attempting to collect one million of ‘em. Of course, collecting a million coins wouldn’t normally be easy, but many, many new ways have been added to the game to make nabbing insane amounts of coins easier. In the three level demo I managed to collect over a thousand without really trying.

Of the many new ways to make coin collecting easier and more interesting, perhaps the most fun addition is the Gold Flower. When Mario collects the Gold Flower he turns into Gold Mario, which allows him to throw fireballs that turn enemies into coins and can turn many brick blocks at once into coins.

The other fantastic thing about New Super Mario Bros. 2 is that it marks the return of Raccoon Mario. Like Super Mario Bros. 3, when Mario collects the Super Leaf he gains ears and a tail which allow him to take to the skys. Flying with Raccoon Mario is (in my opinion) one of gamings most fun experiences. It truly is joyful to once again fly high above Goombas and Koopas and leave them far behind as you soar to the end of Mario stages. Even though the Super Leaf (the power-up that grants you the Raccoon suit or Tanooki suit depending on the game) made a return in Super Mario 3D Land, it was a bit of a let down as you were unable to fly (you could only float slowly downward).

With a 2D platformer, you wouldn’t expect the 3DS’s 3D effect to really jump out at you. While there was nothing in the demo that really made you go “WHOA”, the little bits here and there definitely enhanced it. Mario and the platforms are up front while the background scenery is waaaaaaaay in the back. It made it very pleasurable to view while not seeming gimmicky and not doing many fancy effects that may cause eyestrain over time.

In addition to all these great new features, there are plenty of other new features I didn’t get to try out, such as the two-player mode. The entire New Super Mario Bros. 2 game is playable with a second player (on a second 3DS). The two players can work together to beat the game.

Although it’s hard to complain about a new Mario platformer, one thing bugged me in the 3DS demo. While you can play the game using the d-pad or circle pad, the obvious and most comfortable way to play is with the circle pad (because, if you haven’t played the 3DS, the circle pad sits directly under your thumb while the d-pad is at an odd location below it). Now, as much as I love this flat analog stick for full 3D games (like Super Mario 3D Land and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D), it is not the ideal control for a 2D platformer where every jump has to be exact or you crash headlong into a enemy or fall a pit of lava. It could be just me, but I seemed to be rather slippery and inaccurate most of the time I played it. I found I could get it work correctly toward the end of my time with the game, but it still never felt “right”.

Overall I found New Super Mario Bros. 2 to be an incredible addition to the franchise. Even though I found the circle pad a little annoying, it still was one of the most fun 3DS games I’ve played. I can’t wait to play more when it is released both as a physical and digital game August 19th (the same day as the 3DS XL).

Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel Announced at SDCC

July 20, 2012

Whoa. Phineas and Ferb… with Spider Man, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Venom, Whiplash, Red Skull, and M.O.D.O.K.? Say what now? Just watch the video and gasp in awe with me as I wait for Summer 2013 to see what the heck will happen when they mix the talent of Marvel with the witty humor of Phineas and Ferb.

Read more at Marvel.com

Please Select Student! Yetee Shirt

July 19, 2012

HOLY POP POP!

This shirt beckons, like a finger curling and uncurling as if to say “Hey, come here”. The cool cool cool-ness is making my whole brain cry and I don’t no what to do. Someone had better call all the ambulances because this shirt is LIFE CHANG-ING.

Get it on the Yetee before it goes away at 9:00 PT on the 21st!

Sweet Deans…

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon 3DS Preview

July 19, 2012

Like last year at Comic-Con, Nintendo took over part of the Marriott hotel to build the Nintendo gaming lounge. This year though, there were substantially less new games to try. Still, Nintendo’s gaming lounge was totally epic (and not just because I got to meet Charles Martinet there. More on that soon!). I got the chance to play a few new games on the 3DS XL, the best of which (in my opinion) was Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

When the original Luigi’s Mansion was released on the Gamecube it was a fan favorite. It was the Gamecube’s best selling launch title and fifth best selling Gamecube game in the US. However, it was criticized for being too short (you could beat in in about 6 hours). Fast forward over a decade and we are seeing the release Mario’s green clad brother return to the staring role with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS aiming to correct any shortcomings with the original.

When you begin the rather long demo (I felt I was holding up the line at my demo unit forever) the first thing you notice is how fantastic it looks. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is one of the most visually appealing 3DS games I’ve played. The shadows and darkness of the games mansion(s) really make the 3D pop. But more impressive than the 3D popping out of the screen is the depth. You feel totally immersed as you stare down hallways and survey the spooky grounds.

Moving about in the detailed 3D environment is incredible. The amount of detail that went into creating each of the rooms inside the mansion is astounding. A particularly nice feature I found is when Luigi looked through a window, it would switch to a first person view where you looked around by moving the 3DS. It may not be a new feature for 3DS games, but Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon executes it well.

Of course, like the original, the core gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is capturing ghosts with your Poltergust 5000 vacuum. Without the use of a second analog stick like the Gamecube had, looking around the mansion and capturing ghosts is a different experience. You use the circle pad, buttons, and gyroscope in place of having a second analog stick. The controls aren’t quite as intuitive as they could be, but with practice they are effective. While they are fun and unique, it does make me wish the 3DS had a second circle pad.

Overall, the game is totally excellent. The atmosphere it creates is impressively enthralling. I had a ton of fun with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon at Comic-Con and I can’t wait to don my green cap again when the game is released later this holiday season.

3DS XL Preview

July 18, 2012

I got the chance to have a lot of hands-on gaming with the 3DS XL at Comic-Con. It definitely has it’s pros and cons compared to the regular 3DS.

PROS:

The screen size is spectacular. In case you haven’t looked at the specs, the screens are 90% larger than those of the 3DS. It’s MUCH more comfortable to look at.

The 3D effect is also greatly improved thanks to the screen size. It enlarges the “sweet spot” so you can look at it more comfortably from more angles.

The new shape and matte finish also make it more comfortable to hold. The new shape helps it sit better in your hands.

The battery life has been extended from about 3-5 to 3.5-6.5 hours for 3DS games and from about 5-8 to 6-10 hours for DS games.

CONS:

The pixels are stretched in order to use up all that new screen space. This gives the screen rather large pixels which is really disappointing. It greatly hurt the visual quality of games I played, even on that really nice screen.

I don’t think you can call it “portable” any more. It’s so large that you might as well be carrying around a small laptop or an iPad.

The lack of a second circle pad confuses many die-hard Nintendo fans. Considering they’ve released the Circle Pad Pro attachment for the 3DS and have announced that they will be bringing one to the 3DS XL anyways, not building it into the oversized handheld when there is certainly enough space is baffling.

OVERALL:

It’s really up to the gamer if they think the 3DS XL is worth it’s $200 price tag and is better than the 3DS which costs $30 less. Personally, I prefer my normal sized system (although I do like the new matte paint jobs), but it really is preference. Do you prefer giant screens that are more pixelated or smaller screens that are more portable? We’ll find out what the general consensus is when the 3DS XL released August 19th (the same day as New Super Mario Bros. 2).


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